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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Many Or Most?

In Singapore, the mainstream media has often been criticized by our online community for biased, pro-ruling party reporting.

However, I think that even the mainstream media itself is not entirely homogeneous.

Compare these two news articles, both reporting on the response of Mr. S. Iswaran (Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry) in Parliament to questions about the Integrated Resorts.

Click on the headlines for the full articles:

1. No compromise to concept of IRs, with small portion for gambling (Channel NewsAsia 18 May 2010)

2. Too early to judge success of IRs: Iswaran (TODAYonline 19 May 2010)

Here are excerpts from both reports to highlight a small but crucial difference between them:

1. Channel NewsAsia - He also addressed concerns from opposition MP Low Thia Khiang that many Singaporeans were hitting the casinos. He felt there is a novelty factor at play, but pledged that agencies are monitoring the trends closely.

Hougang MP Low Thia Khiang said: "There are reports that most visitors to the casinos are actually Singaporeans, is that a concern of the government?"

Mr Iswaran replied: "Obviously we want to ensure that Singaporeans who choose to go to the casinos give due thought to that before they go in and not do it on an impulse — which is why we have a whole slew of measures that have been put in place.

"It would be fair to say that there is a novelty factor in place, and to say that whatever we see at play in terms of numbers, in terms of performance in the first few weeks and months is an accurate predictor of what will be happening 12 months, 24 months down the road, I think may be stretching the argument a little bit."

"I think what I can assure the member is that the agencies are monitoring the situation closely and I think once we have a better sense of the patterns and trends, then I think we will better know how the measures we have put in place are working."

2. TODAYonline - Opposition MP (Hougang) Low Thia Khiang asked if the Government was concerned that many of the casinos' patrons so far seem to be Singaporeans.

To this, Mr Iswaran replied that the "novelty factor" was at play and may not accurately reflect the situation one or two years down the road.

"The agencies are monitoring the situation closely, and once we have a better sense of the patterns and trends, then I think we'll know how the measures (against problem gambling) we've put in place are working," he said.

If the Channel NewsAsia's direct quote is accurate, then Mr. Low actually asked if the government was concerned that MOST casino visitors appear to be Singaporeans.

He didn't ask if the government was concerned that MANY casino patrons appear to be Singaporeans, which is how TODAYonline paraphrased it.

MOST is not the same as MANY.

There is a difference because MANY refers to raw numbers whereas MOST refers to a proportion.

Over time, any foreign-owned casino that opens its door to native citizens will have MANY native visitors.

But if the casino was planned to be a tool for boosting tourism, then MOST of its visitors should be foreigners, not natives!

Otherwise it would have become yet another shiny new avenue for citizens to transfer their money to foreign corporations.

Interestingly, Mr. Iswaran did not dispute Mr. Low's observation; instead, he talked about the novelty factor and the need for more time to determine the trends, which seems to be a tacit acknowledgement of the current situation - if you read the Channel NewsAsia version, that is.

In contrast, that insight cannot be obtained from the TODAYonline version.

For any piece of news, I think it's a good idea to read a number of sources to get a better picture of what is going on.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Gong Fu, Noh, And A Magical Robot Unicorn

During the 1990s, the 80's must have seemed like the gayest decade in human history, with its big shiny clothes and big multicoloured hair.

Little did we realize that the 90's turned out to be even gayer than the 80's.

Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you the Year 1994:

And with the advent of free flash games, kids today are rediscovering the gayness of the 1990's all over again, one high score at a time...

Would you like to know more?

- The Gay '90's

- Robot Unicorn Attack flash game by [adult swim]

- I want to be a magical rainbow unicorn, chasing neon butterflies and flying dolphins through a purple marshmellowly land! OH YES!

- I am secure with my masculinity.